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their love of art and travel is the basis for the kinsey collection, which has visited eight u.s. cities and has been seen by more than 3 million people. we are glad you have joined us. our conversation with bernard and shirley kinsey coming up right now. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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tavis: bernard and shirley kinsey are behind the unique art exhibit. the kinsey collection has been viewed by 3 million people in eight u.s. cities, with more on the way, beginning in 2013. the companion book to the exhibit is called "the kinsey collection." it is an honor to have you both on this program. >> good to be here. tavis: let me start with whether or not in the obama era a door has been at open for greater appreciation of african-american art. i ask that for the obvious reasons, because there are some people for whom black history does not start until the black president gets elected. is there something that has happened, you think, that may
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be leading to a greater embrace and appreciation for our culture and contribution? >> we started in 2006. i think we sensed a change in america in 2006, 2007, even before barack obama became president. i think there is more willingness to understand the story, but the story has not been told. it is the story of the europeans, the indians, and the africans building america. the kinsey collection and our family has gone about trying to say we are part of this story and that narrative is a powerful narrative of accomplishment and triumphed. over the past six years, we have been able to reach 3 million people. i mean, we have just had so
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many actions, so many cities, so many museums, and the general response has ben, "we did not know that." that is what we start with any time we do a performance. we want you to leave and say, i did not know that. that started in 1600, and we take you to the incredible people, whose lives were lost in obscurity. we have taken them out of their graves and given them a personality, a name, a voice. tavis: why for you has this been such a passionate project? i have known you for many years. both of you knew have found that as well enough off to sit in retirement where you want, but you travel the country could you are passionate about this. why such a passion for you? >> one thing, i want our young
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people to know who they are and where they come from and be empowered by that. our son was born in 1977. the year of "roots." when he was in third grade, we realized that "ebony" and "jet" was not enough to do his african-american reports. he had to do with family history report. we have done a great job. when he came back and said that so and so can go to france and spain and italy, where can we go? >> tallahassee, west palm. >> that said to was then, we need to do more because he needs to know more. his friends need to know more. his friends would come over the house and bernard would do a
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history report with them. they would not want to leave. we knew that we were touching the young people at that point and they needed to know more and their parents needed to know more so they could use this information to empower themselves. that is where our passion comes from. tavis: you wore a long time corporate executive, bernard, and those in corporate america know of your accomplishments. did you ever imagine that your life would take this kind of turn? >> one of the things, we have been married 45 years. we have been just so blessed in so many ways. i told a group of black employees saturday, you should have many lives. he should always be looking for that next block, crossing that streaming your life. that is what we have done. this notion with the kinsey collection, we never thought it would be that. it started with a three-page
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article in the l.a. times in 2005. we were approached by the african american museum. we did it there, then other museums. what we are proud of is we have been able to touch so many people. the kid's a collection was adopted by the state of florida to teach african american history to 3.6 million kids. we have a curriculum, k-12. each year, we do more. we have an ipad app coming out in january. it is amazing, because we keep touching these points. with the exception of "america i am," we don't know of anybody else trying to do it quite like this. failure is a four-lane highway, success is under construction. we are under construction and we are driving this thing and we
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want to build this highway. tavis: as we have been talking, our director, jonathan, has been flashing through some of the items in the collection. give the audience some sense of the collection. there is a whole book, obviously, but in terms of the kind of artifacts. you have paintings, you have -- >> paintings, books, manuscripts, documents, going back to the 1600's. tavis: you have a combination. >> we have a combination, and bernard has been an historian and the family for a number of years. for me, i always wanted to know when friends were coming into my house as artists. i have become friends with a lot of them, been able to share them with other friends of mine. it has just been amazing the
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journey we have been on. bernard manchin been touched by so many people. it renews you. it allows you to continue 1. -- and allows you to continue. i'm a grandmother. tavis: i want to go back to something that you said a moment ago. it hit me viscerally. i'm a lover and collector of art. i never heard it quite phrase that the way that you said, which is that you want to meet our guests because you want to know what spirits are coming into your house when you purchase the art. i want to meet the artist to get a discount, if i can. [laughter] tavis: and maybe i should be mature and have your approach. but i take that and i'm fascinated by that. >> since we have been in museums, we have had artists approach us and literally want to give us something because
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they want that to be in our collection. and i have had to turn it down. at one point, i did not know the person, or maybe i was not crazy about the work. one in particular knew that, but said it would help her so much. i can refer other people to the art but i cannot acquire that because i do not want that in my face. with art, with historical documents, and bernard being in a historian of everything black and white, i did not want the kkk material in our exhibit. the negatives that came with that did not sit well. tavis: that is interesting, because there are some who will say that as part of history. >> it is. tavis: and just as you do not want the folks in texas real writing textbooks to write out certain things they did not want students to learn, in your
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collection and you are entitled to it, but tell me why you decided not to include that very important part? >> shirley and i did not totally agree on this. there are very few things. tavis: 45 years, i did that. >> but we do have a 1921 kkk piece. the thing about the kinsey collection, starting in 1600, we have things from slaves, we had everything. we don't tell this story from a deluded standpoint. what shirley, a hanging, are people being hung, she has resisted that. we deal specifically with the jim crow period. we have a whole section of the book about jim crow.
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in other words, if you pick up this book, you will learn the accomplishments of black folks. one was kidnapped at nine years old in nigeria, ended up in the caribbean, became a captain, sailed over the world, wrote a book in 1789, which became the basis of william pitt starting the attack on slavery and the 1800's. you never heard of her. born on a slave ship, went on to become an opera singer. phyllis wheatley, more famous than at oprah winfrey, died in obscurity at the age of 32. what we are saying is these people had lives, they meant something. what we want to do is bring them to have them get a proper light. it is almost like the unknown
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soldier. that is why we honor them, because they are unknown. it has been over 100 years before another black person was elected in florida, and they all came from florida out a &m. i say if we did not have that, would we ever have a black congress member? we are trying to get black folks and white folks understand this narrative of prejudice, power, and privilege. those are the themes operating in america every day that are keeping us from being able to move this thing. that is what the president just dealt with during this election. there, trustgoing me, about this contemporary moment we are living and, as juxtaposed to the history in the kinsey collection. shirley, i have no new 25 years, and i am glad to know there is
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something that you actually disagreed on. it is kind of cute for me. i have never seen use it this far apart, actually. tell me, i am curious, give me your take on why the out klan stuff bothers you so much? >> it is painful, for one thing. i understand why my grandmother talk about slavery. she had to have known about it, being born in 1887. her parents and grandparents. i say in my collection, these are going to be in my collection, but not in our exhibit. i want the young people to start learning their own history. i want them to start going through the stuff they have, identifying photos in the house, use the technology that is available at their fingertips. i just wanted to focus on the positives.
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not to say this to not exist, slavery and shackles, but on the other hand, i want our people to be empowered by all of the accomplishments, all the things we did building this country, and let everybody know we have dibs here. we did not always come here as slaves, we came as free people initially. tavis: your son was born in 1977, the year that "roots" came out. my mom and i will not even discuss this any more because it is such a cantankerous conversation every time we get into it. but when "roots" came out, my mother would not let us watch it. she did not want us to watch because she could not take it. she could not take it and she did not want us to sit there and watch. as the knights went on, she let us watch a little bit, but i was
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a grown man before watched it from beginning to end, and now i owe the collection and i sit down every year, in my own house, by myself. i sit and watch alex haley's epic work from beginning to end, every year, just for my own connection. i understand the sentiment about it being troubling and pressing in that regard. bernard, you said something a moment ago, which is this notion that you want people to know that these black folk have lives, the weber short some of them, however many died, as you said, in obscurity, they had lives and their lives mattered. fast forward to a contemporary moment, with so many african- americans who still themselves feel like their lives don't matter, and in the larger picture, they are treated by this country in so many ways still as if their lives did not
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matter. can you juxtapose those? >> most black folks have holes in their hearts, ok? the hole in their heart is because we don't know who we're it -- who we are and where we came from. we did not learn this in high school history. we have talked to millions of people around the country, and we have seen black, white, asian, jews, it does not matter because the african-american experience touched all of them. when you start filling that hole by understanding who you are, where you came from, and his book helps is because the reason the young people kill each other is because they don't think they are valuable. they think that shoes are more valuable than their other person. we have this lady, she is a fabulous young lady. she came to our opening at the smithsonian. but me say this about the smithsonian.
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here we are, the kinsey collection, the only private family collection in the american history museum, one of the most visited museums in the world, and on the main floor. it was mind blown. i knew that we were there, but until i went in and solid, i cannot believe it. -- but until i went and and saw it, i cannot believe it. she wrote a letter and said, "my mom died and i had nothing that said she was there." when i sought the consent collection at the smithsonian, i can tell my daughters i was there. herpes is hanging. for her, that is powerful. -- her piece is hanging, and for her, that is powerful. we fill this with all of these positive brothers and sisters, james, the first integrated workforce in 1823.
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i could go on for a week. all of these brothers and sisters accomplished extraordinary things. dennis in 1765, stews, and wins back pay because she said she was not a slave. my mama was white, so i am free. we tell our jewish friends that before the holocaust -- not a victim thing, but before the holocaust, we were there, and we had all of the same different people, we had those, too. not as a competitive thing, but to say that we are in this together, you follow me? we are at eye level. and that is what i want my brothers and sisters to 1% band. -- that is what i want my brothers and sisters to understand. what they did not learn in high
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school history, that is what you do. tavis: shirley, how the process personally being able to see your collection on display at the smithsonian, in the era of an african-american president, given where you came from florida? >> i tell the story about 1963, after the march in washington, that freshman year, and demonstrations were happening and i became part of that. 17 years old, i am in jail, but because of something i believe in. i had been arrested. down the street from the capital, washington, d.c.. and then in 2010, having in exhibit. and the street from the capitol in washington, d.c. it was really something. it was amazing, it has truly been amazing. while we were there, actually, just before we opened, an artist
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in 2009, she had a bust of sojourners truth and failed by mrs. obama, and now it is at the capitol. -- it was unveiled by mrs. obama. to attend the ceremony and see rt by a blackl a woman was transforming. and that could that have happened if president obama was not an office. tavis: it has been in news and a lot lately, but in the news a lot lately, the hazing incident where the band leader was killed. the president of the university has resigned, but even what america has heard about this story. you were once on the board of trustees? tell me what is happening there and how you feel about this
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beloved institution? >> first of all, they graduate and% of all african-americans in the country, more than the pac- 10 and ivy league put together. secondly, i am on search committee for the new band director. this institution is powerful. it was named the no. one school in america by a "time" and " princeton review" back in 1987. it is unfortunate we had this institute, but the florida a&m band has been employing many years. we are not throwing away that institution because of this tragic incident. penn state did not stop playing football, you follow me? we are back.
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we just received a big grant from the government on some research. we graduate more ph.d.'s in physics and math and science than any other institution. why? because we don't go after just the talented 10%, we are educating all of these black folks. tavis: shirley, grenard mentioned that you have been married 45, 46 years now. no marriage is perfect, obviously, but i think it means something in the contest of black history to have not just an african-american president, but when it was a black wife, beautiful children. that family mean something. >> it certainly does mean something. not that i put this in the same category, but i like the idea of us being where we are and having young people understand that we are not -- we were not always
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where we are. we did not start out this way. we came to california, no car, i did not know how to drive, but we set out to make a life. we started out on my salary. bernard's mother and father, his mother to not have to work. in his mind, even though i worked, we lived on one salary. that is what we did. we made a life. i want people to understand that we have done this, but we are just regular, ordinary people. >> and frugal. >> very frugal. >> other than travel and art. >> our cars are 15 years old. tavis: i know where you travel, and the way you travel and the are you collect. >> what is it only that i can do in my time, they say. and i think what we have done
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here is all of this 45 years together with our son, as a dad, i got my son and my wife, and we work on this together. just the other day we closed a deal in terms of doing a big show next year. how're you going to do this? the imagery, when we go into a city and see a family, an african american family, it is powerful. it is powerful. tavis: i have known them for years and it is an honor to have them on this program. kinsey collection, if you get a chance to see this collection as it travels the country, do yourself a favor and in power, inspire, and entertain yourself with some aspects. i love you. good to have you on the program. >> thank you. tavis: that is our show for tonight. up until next time, keep the
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faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with grammy-winning producer don was on blue note records. that is next time. we will see you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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>> be more. pbs.
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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: police and protesters clashed in cairo's tahrir square and elsewhere in egypt today, sparked when president mohamed

Tavis Smiley
PBS November 23, 2012 2:30pm-3:00pm PST

News/Business. (2012) Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, The Kinsey Collection. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY America 7, Bernard 6, Florida 5, Us 4, U.s. 4, Washington 3, Shirley Kinsey 2, Mrs. Obama 2, Smithsonian 2, The Smithsonian 2, D.c. 2, Jonathan 1, Tavis Smiley 1, Bernard Manchin 1, Phyllis Wheatley 1, Penn 1, Barack Obama 1, Trustgoing 1, Smiley 1, Brown 1
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